Acid Reflux Diet & Cookbook For Dummies
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Acid reflux is dangerous because it's linked with several serious, life-threatening medical conditions. One of the more serious conditions associated with reflux is esophageal stricture (a narrowing of the esophagus). This condition can make it difficult to swallow and may require surgery.

Even more serious is Barrett's esophagus, a mutation of the cells that line the esophagus. Barrett's can be a precursor to esophageal cancer. Speaking of esophageal cancer, that's another potential (though rare) consequence of long-term, serious reflux.

Reflux can lead to inflammation of the esophagus, and chronic, painful coughing and hoarseness. To get rid of these symptoms, you may start popping antacids. An occasional antacid isn't a problem, but becoming reliant on them is. The chemicals in some antacids can lead to fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhea, muscle pain, and swelling.

Another illness that reflux can cause? Aspiration pneumonia — an inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes from inhaling gastric contents into the lungs. Anyone can get this condition, but people with reflux are more likely to develop it.

Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia include

  • Blue color to the skin

  • Chest pain

  • Coughing

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Excessive sweating

  • Fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Wheezing

See a doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

If you have reflux only a few times a year, the worst you'll suffer will be discomfort and maybe a poor night of rest. But if you get reflux much more often than that, you'll find yourself on a ladder you don't want to climb.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Patricia Raymond, MD, FACG, is one of the most respected voices in patient education on digestive health, including acid reflux. Michelle Beaver has served as editor-in-chief or associate editor for magazines that serve surgeons, endoscopic nurses, nephrologists, and primary-care physicians.

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